ABC axes Tonightly with Tom Ballard, citing need for ‘fresh approach’

Comedy and entertainment show Tonightly with Tom Ballard will be axed by the ABC after its final airing on September 7.

The show, which has been running four days a week on ABC Comedy since December last year, will not return to screens after its second season, with the broadcaster arguing it was time for a “fresh approach”.

The show first premiered in December last year

Since launch the program has come under scrutiny, with communications minister Mitch Fifield criticising the program earlier this year for a skit which saw an Australian Conservatives candidate labelled a c**t.

During the sketch, comedian Greg Larsen impersonated a public servant proposing the Melbourne electorate named after the city’s founder, John Batman, be renamed to “Batman was a c**t” due to his treatment of the indigenous population.

Last week, The Australian Communications and Media Authority cleared the ABC comedy for breaching the code of conduct, but warned there were limits to content that could be justified in a comedic context.

Earlier this year, host Ballard was also caught in headlines over a sexual assault allegation, which he strenuously denied. 

According to OzTAM’s overnight figures, the show attracted an audience in the 16-54 year old demographic of 18,000 across the five metro cities yesterday evening. Nationally, the audience was 26,000 which made it the 76th most watched show for the group.

Total audience across the metro markets was 32,000, which was not enough for the show to make the top-100 overall.

A statement by the ABC said while it remained committed to exploring new projects that connect with various demographic, it would look for a new show.

“Tonightly deliberately pushed boundaries to inform and entertain.  We are proud of the program and its role in supporting some of Australia’s best emerging comedy talent. Our thanks go to the very talented team members for their hard work and dedication in producing a complex and cracking show in quick time, over some 150 episodes,” a spokesperson said.

“We look forward to working with them again in the future. A special thanks to Tom for helping us to laugh, cry and sigh about the world.

“The ABC will continue to develop innovative content on broadcast TV and digital services, through comedies such as Back in Very Small Business and Get Krack!n’, and live shows such as the Splendour in the Grass TV special on Rage and the upcoming triple j One Night Stand and One Night Stand Up on ABC TV and iview.”

Ballard said being host had been an honour and privilege.

“I feel so proud of the ‘work’ we made and I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by laughter and stupidity for an entire year. My sincere thanks go to the brilliant Tonightly team, the ABC and the fans of Cory Bernardi,” Ballard said.

Earlier this year, comedian Dan Ilic was appointed executive producer of the show. Ilic posted his response to the axing, referring to a recent sketch about Baby Boomers.

Update, the original version of this story stated the metro audience for Tonightly last night was 18,000. Those were the 18-54 demographic figures. Mumbrella apologises for the error.


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